Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Thomas Keller's Roasted Chicken, our version

DH and I make this chicken maybe once a month and it is SO yummy, and relatively simple to do. It's our variation on chef Thomas Keller's simple roasted chicken.

First we brine the chicken. This adds a lot of great flavor to the chicken. Here is Cook's Illustrated's info on brining and how it works.


1 two to three pound whole chicken, thawed

2 cups filtered water
1 cup Kosher salt
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
ice and more filtered water

Remove your thawed chicken from the package and take out the giblets from the cavity (if there are any). Mix all of the brine ingredients together in a small saucepan and bring to a boil on the stove, stirring occasionally. You want the sugar and salt to be mostly dissolved. Pour the brine mixture into a large container that is big enough to completely submerge the chicken in the brine. Don't add your chicken while the brine is still hot! Add a few handfuls of of ice to the brine to cool it down. Once the brine is cool, place the chicken in the container. Add more filtered water until it comes just above the chicken. Wiggle the chicken a little bit making sure some brine gets into the cavity. Cover and place in the fridge for at least a few hours. Don't let your chicken brine for much longer than 8 to 10 hours as it can become too salty.

I usually brine the chicken around lunchtime so we can eat around 7 or 8pm.


Your brined whole chicken
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1 yellow onion
4 medium red potatoes
A couple handfuls of baby carrots
(you can do any kind of veggies you like with chicken, zucchini, squash, etc.)

Preheat the over to 450 degrees F.

Remove the chicken from the brine and rinse it in the sink. Pat it dry... both inside the cavity and out, with lots and lots of paper towels. You want it to be as dry as possible. The less it steams, the drier the heat, the better.

Sprinkle salt and pepper into the cavity, then truss the bird. When you truss a bird, the wings and legs stay close to the body; the ends of the drumsticks cover the top of the breast and keep it from drying out. It helps the chicken to cook evenly, and it also makes for a prettier roasted bird. Don't know how to truss a chicken? Here's a video.

Now, rain salt over the bird so that it has a nice uniform coating that will result in a crisp, salty, flavorful skin (about 1 tablespoon). Season to taste with pepper.

Roughly chop the onion. Wash the potatoes and cut into 1 inch cubes. Pour the onion, potatoes and baby carrots into a roasting pan, evenly covering the bottom. Place the chicken on top. The juices from the chicken will add flavor & fat to the veggies. When the oven is at temperature, place the roasting pan in the oven. Roast until it's done, 50 to 60 minutes. We usually use a probe thermometer that stays in the bird and dings when the bird reaches a desired temperature. If your bird starts to brown on top a little too soon or too much, loosely covering it with aluminum foil can slow the browning process.

Remove it from the oven and baste the chicken in the juices. Remove the chicken from the pan and place it on a cutting board to rest for 15 minutes. Don't remove the thermometer probe yet! Put the pan with the veggies back in the oven for a few minutes until they turn whatever desired brown-ness you'd like.

After the chicken has rested, remove the thermometer probe (if you used one), carve and serve.

It's yummy all by itself, but we usually add a dijon mustard to our plates. I love the sweet/hot mustard from Trader Joe's. I like to serve it with with a simple tossed salad and a dry white or rosé wine.

Here's the one we made the other night:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Albondiga Soup by Karina T. Toledo

Albondiga Soup by Karina T. Toledo


1 lb ground beef

3 Stems of Parsley (chopped)

2 tomatillos (green tomatoes) peeled

4 tomatoes

2 small pieces Onion

2 cloves Garlic

Can of Chipotle sauce (optional if you like a little spice)

1/4 cup of cooked rice

1 cube of Knorr chicken flavoring


3 eggs (hard boiled and cut in 4 pieces each)


1. Blend together 2 tomatillos and parsley with a small piece of onion (small) and one garlic clove. Add about 2-3 tbs of water (so that it can blend better)

2. In a bowl add mixture (step 1) with ground beef and cooked rice

3. In a small sauce pan boil 4 tomatoes, then blend the tomatoes with the other small piece for onion and remaining garlic clove and a 1/2 cup of water.

4. In a big soup pan add the mixture (from step 3) let it simmer, add 1/2-1 cup of water (depending on how thick you want the soup). Let it simmer for 5 mins. then add the cube of chicken flavoring and salt to taste (you can add 1/2-1 tbs of chipotle sauce if you want to make it spicy)

5. Roll ground beef into meatballs insert a piece of the hard boiled egg in the center. Once you have roll all the meatballs add them to the sauce pan and let it simmer for 10-15 mins.

Spinach chicken casserole

I know a lot of the ladies had asked me to share this one. I didn't measure out the chx, just used 2 chx breast. We also didn't use tomatoes since DH hates them, and added in some extra spinach. I was surprised at the lack of creamy-ness from the cream cheese, but it was still pretty good. A bit on the onion-y side, so if you're not a huge fan, you could always cut the amount of onion in half, or use none at all and just get the flavor from the CC. Oh, and as a calorie saver, I omitted the mozzarella cheese on the top:

8 oz uncooked rigatoni
1 T olive oil
1 c chopped onion
1 (10 oz) pack frozen spinach, thawed
3 c cubed, cooked chicken breasts
1 (14 oz) can Italian-style diced tomatoes, drained
1 (8 oz) container Philadelphia chive & onion cream cheese
½ t salt, ½ t pepper
1½ c shredded mozzarella cheese

Prepare rigatoni according to pkg directions. Spread oil on bottom of 11x17 in baking dish; add onion in a single layer. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes or just until tender. Transfer onion to large bowl, set aside.

Drain chopped spinach well, pressing between paper towels. Stir in rigatoni, spinach, chicken, & next 4 ingredients into onion in bowl. Spoon mixture into dish & sprinkle evenly with shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake covered at 375 for 30 minutes; uncover & bake 15 more minutes or until bubbly.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Crockpot Pulled BBQ Chicken

Possibly the easiest and tastiest chicken dinner EVER!!

Spray your crock pot with Pam.
3-4 frozen or thawed chicken breasts (sometimes the frozen breasts make for even more tender and juicy chicken)
Add onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper to your tastes. Add other spices if you want too!
Add 1/2 thinly sliced red onion (or yellow onion or none at all)
Add one bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce.

Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours.
Take lid off and pull chicken with 2 forks. Cook another 1 hour at least or more if you want.
Add more BBQ sauce if you like it extra saucy ;-)
Serve plain or on hard sandwich rolls. Great with salad and cornbread!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Kielbasa & Lentil Soup

Kielbasa Soup

1 lb lentils
8 cups water
1 large can tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 ½ to 2 lbs kielbasa
8 slices bacon
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup sliced carrots
1 med. onion, sliced

Wash lentils, combine with water, tomatoes, bay leaves, salt & pepper. Bring to a boil.  Add kielbasa, reduce heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes.

Meanwhile in large skillet, fry 8 slices bacon, diced, until limp.  Remove all but 1 tbsp fat from skillet.  Add celery, carrots and onion.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Add to lentils and continue to simmer for 1 to 1 ½ hours until lentils are tender.

Remove kielbasa, slice, and return to soup. Serve.

*When I made this recently, I used a food processor and ground up the carrots, celery, and onion (we don't do chunks of veggies well in this house).  It made the soup thicker too.

*This recipe also freezes well.  I like to portion it in freezer bags and freeze flat.